Before handing Him over to be crucified, Pontius Pilate concluded his interrogation of Jesus Christ with the question “What is truth?”. The irony of course was that the Truth was standing in front of him.
The debate on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill cuts to the heart of this foundational question. In making their voting decision our MPs must wrestle with what is true about human sexuality. Where should they source their truth from? Many will simply go with what seems right to them, based on their perception of the popular will – a fluid notion at best. Surely we can do better…
I am reminded of a true story told of a stormy night on the Hauraki Gulf some years ago. Wyn had been visiting Great Barrier Island with a friend, but on hearing a forecast of bad weather they weighed anchor early and set sail back to Auckland. It was evening and the boat owner told Wyn to take the first watch and he would get some sleep then take over in a few hours. His parting advice was to steer a course for Tiri lighthouse.
Wyn followed his friend’s advice and aimed for the light blinking across the now increasingly stormy gulf. However the night was cold, the wind was strong and spray kept coming over him. So he huddled down into the boat’s cockpit and every now and again popped his head up for a look to ensure he was on course.
Three hours later his friend appeared and immediately upbraided him;
“What are you doing ?
“I am steering the boat at Tiri lighthouse like you said!”
“But Tiri is over there!” he replied pointing in a completely different direction.
At this point Wyn raised his head and peered once more into the darkness ahead – and it dawned on him that he had actually been following the light attached to the bow of the boat.
Decisions on matters as important as the institution of marriage require more than mere feelings of what seems right to us. Following the light on the bow of our own boat will lead us into dangerous waters. We need an external reference point against which to chart our course. For thousands of years Judeao-Christian values and principles have provided that reference point.
When asked about marriage, Jesus Christ himself simply directed his questioners back to what had already been written many centuries before:
He answered, ” Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ ? “